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Holgrave's role as an artist

In her essay "Hawthorne's Holgrave: The Failure of the Artist-Hero," Nina Baym explores Holgrave's role as an artist and the positive aspects of his character.

Holgrave is regularly referred to as "the Artist" and is shown as master of a number of media-music, authorship, daguerreotyping. As artist, Holgrave is developed in contrast on the one hand to previous Maules, who represent a perversion of artistic energy, and on the other to Clifford, a pseudo-artist who is really a Pyncheon. Though a Maule, Holgrave is also quite clearly the "best" Maule, in whom the fountain seems to flow again with something of its original purity. In Holgrave the fundamental energies of the self are at their healthiest, strong in the sense of their own power and ability, fixed to no form and no medium but informing all, always progressive, impulsive, dynamic. These energies are unmaterial since they care nothing for fixity; they are nonacquisitive, and their inevitable social effect is radical and disruptive. (586)

Where everything turns to dead weight under the Pyncheon touch, everything comes to life under Holgrave's He is as closely associated with the sun as phoebe, harnessing its power for his daguerreotypes. Hawthorne's enthusiasm for him is qualified by only one doubt, which does indeed foreshadow the novel's conclusion-there is some question as to whether Holgrave will fulfill his splendid promise. . . . Thus Holgrave represents a rejuvenescence of the Maule powers. In him the decline of the Maules into sadistic wizards has been arrested, the perversion of their energies into drives for spite and revenge has been halted. (587-88) (courtesy of University of Illinois Press [Link to ]




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